Women’s rugby team getting off the ground | SummitDaily.com

Women’s rugby team getting off the ground

Jason Starr

SUMMIT COUNTY – With the popularity girls rugby enjoys in Summit County, it seems natural for there to be a local women’s team.

This month, for the first time, there is.

Karl Barth, who coaches the Under-19 and Under-17 teams in the spring, and his wife, Suzanna, who has played at the national level, have led a fledgling women’s group into league play in Denver this summer.

The team is playing in a seven-per-side league on Monday nights in Denver against squads from all over the state. Traditionally, rugby teams have 15 per side, and the Barths hope to have the numbers for that by the fall. For now, though, they are content to teach the game in the sevens format.

“Sevens is a good way to start a team, not only because it requires less numbers, but it’s more open, so it’s easier to learn the basic concepts of rugby,” Suzanna said. “Hopefully we’ll generate enough interest to form a 15s team in the fall.”

The team started practice June 2 and played its first game June 3. Karl was able to recruit some of his U19 players and others he knew from working in the Summit School District.

“We had a lot of high school girls complement a few women,” Suzanna said of the first practice. “We still have a few high school girls. We haven’t had any random people show up yet, just people we’ve talked to and told to come out.”

The team practices at 6 p.m. Wednesdays at Dillon City Park in downtown Dillon. Women with and without rugby experience are encouraged to attend.

“Most who have sought us out have experience,” Suzanna said. “They know how great the game is. The totally new people have a tough time getting started.”

Suzanna, meanwhile, is on the tail end of some drama involving her spot on the U.S. National Team. She squeaked her way onto the team as an alternate in November and went on tour with it in Europe. The trip was designed as a tune-up for the World Cup, which took place last month in Spain.

But in between the Europe trip and the World Cup, Suzanna was not invited to a training camp in January and lost her spot on the team. The U.S. women fared poorly in the World Cup, and the coach, Martin Gallagher, resigned Wednesday.

Suzanna, who was willing to put her life on hold for the chance to play on the team, now is moving on. But she maintains hope that, with a new coach, maybe the National Team will take another look at her.

“There’s a lot to life outside of rugby that is becoming the bigger picture now,” she said. “I got my chance. But I’m going to stay fit and keep playing and if the window opens again with a new coach, I could be there.”

In the meantime, she’ll be in Dillon on Wednesdays helping to get the local women’s team off the ground.

Jason Starr can be reached at (970) 668-3998 Ext. 231 or at jstarr@summitdaily.com.

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